Weave’s Bulk Texting feature gives practices the power of text to help connect with patients on their preferred communication medium.

By Steven Martinez

One of the most profound shifts in social behavior of the last 20 years has been the rise of text messaging. If you can remember back that far, not only was it generally harder to get a hold of people before cell phones, but the answering machine was the only indication we might have that someone was trying to reach us. The glowing red digital number showing how many messages were on the machine, the whir of rewinding tape, and the personalized greeting—it used to be possible to be unreachable, for better or worse.

Today, however, people and businesses generally prefer to be available even if it means a red notification bubble has replaced the red glowing number indicating your unread messages. Unfortunately, some businesses have lagged when it comes to the text-based revolution—meaning that your practice’s call-backs to prospective patients and reminders to current patients are relegated to voicemail as people are now accustomed to never answering a call from a number outside their contacts list.

That’s where Weave comes in. It is an all-in-one communication solution for dental professionals that includes phones, forms, patient data, analytics, and, more recently, a Bulk Texting offering that allows businesses to send large amounts of texts to patients simultaneously.

“Bulk texting solves a lot of problems. We save the office time, and we meet the patient where they want to be met in terms of communication, which is typically text messaging,” says Matt Schultz, group product manager at Weave. “It allows our customers like orthodontic and dental offices to save time because they can message at scale with a flexible tool that adds on to our other tools like automated messaging and reminders.”

At its core, Bulk Texting is exactly what it says it is: a method for sending out many messages at once. But instead of simply being the text message equivalent to a reply-all email, Bulk Texting includes customization, scheduling, and tracking features with integration into the rest of the Weave platform.

Text messages can be sent out from a practice for various reasons, from appointment reminders to potential leads and even for marketing and promotion.

“It’s great for getting the word out about sales and promotions. If you’ve got some openings or need a bump in revenue or traffic, butts in seats, it might be hard to do that at scale,” says Schultz. “With Bulk Texting, assuming they have the proper marketing message consent from their patients, they can send out a flash sale.”

The feature can be used to send out urgent information, like an unforeseen closure or sudden need to reschedule from the practice’s end. Schultz says that with the pandemic, some practices used Weave to get back in touch with people once shutdowns ended. If there has been a change of policy, change in location, or the addition of a new service that you want to promote, the ability to quickly reach people becomes advantageous, both in the ability to scale outreach and as a way to reduce the time investment required of busy staff.

The Weave platform also tracks patient status, allowing orthodontists to either try to reach inactive patients or only target the active ones.

One of the key advantages of Weave’s Bulk Texting feature is that it uses the same 10-digit phone number as the business. Rather than the strange 5-digit number spam messages we receive from politicians or more nefarious parties, the 10-digit number ties it to a distinct location adding credibility and recognizability for current patients. This helps mitigate the number of recipients who might want to ignore an unfamiliar message or assume it is spam.

Texting, as immediate and simple as it is for communication, is also more intimate than voicemail; given that, any intrusion into a patient’s personal space comes with a certain responsibility to respect the boundary.

Weave offers tiers of Bulk Texting based on the maximum allotted text messages per month, anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 messages per month. Larger practices might have a more significant need for messaging, so the tiers allow orthodontists to choose the option that best suits their clientele, but the limit also helps Weave to stay off the radar of network providers, says Schultz, who are in a constant struggle with the mass texting spammers we all know and don’t love.

Despite the limits, Schultz says that practices are ultimately responsible for meting out the number of messages they send at once, hopefully staying mindful of people’s time and patience for reminders and marketing messages. On Weave’s platform, a single bulk send is limited to 1,000 recipients, hopefully not something that practices would need to do very often.

“Our traffic for a given office location is much smaller than the average spam use case. So, we’re not too worried about it,” says Schultz. “It does put more of the responsibility on to the office, though, because if they do get flagged as spam, and they have an interruption in the deliverability, it’s going to interrupt their other messaging as well, such as appointment reminders and other text reminders that are the lifeblood of their practice.”

As part of the Weave platform, Bulk Texting has a dashboard that allows staff to view and edit all its messages. From there, the team can manage all messages that have been sent or are scheduled to be sent while offering engagement metrics to see how patients respond to their texts. While read receipts are still unavailable through SMS thanks to the ongoing messaging app battle between Apple and Google, the dashboard allows orthodontists to get at least a sense of how their messaging strategies are being received.

Image courtesy of Weave